Social Media as an Archive

Social media has been around for a really long time. You may have forgotten just how many accounts you have and on what kinds of websites you used to go on. Even sites like Webkinz and random forums technically count as social media, because you interacted with others online. The Facebook account you used to use once upon a time is still there, even if it’s collecting dust, with all the old posts and photos you’ve forgotten that you posted.

tony-lam-hoang-156669-unsplashIf you’re lucky (or unlucky) enough to remember your passwords to these accounts, you can login and go down a trip to memory lane. It doesn’t have to be limited to your old accounts either; Timehop will share old posts for you on sites like Facebook, while Twitter allows you to download your entire archive. If you’re patient, you can also scroll down your Instagram and Twitter profiles, or through your memories on Snapchat, and see things that you’ve posted from as recently as yesterday to even years ago.

There may be some benefits to having access to these old accounts. Some argue that nostalgia – and its social media counterparts through #TBTs, Timehop, and the downloadable archives – can be beneficial to mental health. Connecting and seeing older memories can help maintain your sense of identity and remind you that important parts of your personality have stayed the same over time, and can also spark optimism and inspiration about the future.

On the other hand, some experts say that nostalgia can be a rabbit hole that’s not worth going down into. If you were going through a particularly bad time, you may have posted about it, and rereading that can spark those negative emotions again. You can also be proud of the progress you’ve made since that time, or you may feel bad for how you felt back then, feeling a sense of loss.

con-karampelas-1178814-unsplashOne person shared her experience with social media nostalgia. She shared her journey when she downloaded the archive for her 13-year-old Facebook account. It told her how many times she deactivated his profile, showed her old videos that she had deleted before uploading them, and the order that her friends were added. Despite the sadness she felt and how it all this information was only really useful for Facebook and advertisers, she also felt more human through the activity through the catching up she did.

Looking at social media archives isn’t just a personal experience however. Social media has also made it easy to openly share these memories charles-1161801-unsplashwith everyone on your network. As a result, it’s really easy to feel like you experienced FOMO just by looking at posts of events that you never even knew about until that moment. Posting old memories is also a conscious choice, because while memories maintain your identity, sharing that with others can also be a way to tell your network that you’ve always been a certain way and you’re sticking to your brand. For example, if you post a lot about fashion, uploading an old photo of you as a child playing with your mom’s makeup tells people that you’ve always been into beauty and it therefore makes you look more legitimate and that’s how you want to come across.

Overall, nostalgia can have its positives (that’s why Happiness Jars are a great way to foster positivity), but it be a tricky topic to tackle, especially when doing so on social media. You can always share a #TBT or an old, possibly embarrassing post, whenever you feel like it, but getting trapped in the past can make it harder to grow for the future.


How do you feel about nostalgic posts online? Have you ever looked at your old posts on your profiles? If so, how did they make you feel? How do you feel when you see others’ old posts?

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Hi! The moderator is a research team member with a background in behavioral health. We're here to help answer your questions and stimulate some great conversation! We don't provide therapy and are not available 24-7 so please if you are in crisis, go to our crisis page: https://sova.pitt.edu/i-need-help-now We look forward to talking to you!

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